Clinical education is an important component of undergraduate nurse education, in which clinical teachers facilitate students' application of theoretical classroom knowledge into the clinical practice setting. Mothering as part of clinical teachers' work was a major finding from a larger study exploring clinical teaching work to identify what shaped their work and barriers to their work in clinical settings. The study used semi-structured interviews, informed by the work of Foucault. Maternal discourses emerged as a predominant one as participants presented their relationships with students describing examples of nurturing, protecting, supporting, guiding and providing discipline. The unexpected finding contradicted the dominant view of students as adult learners, and potentially positions them as dependent in their learning in clinical environments. Exploration of this discourse in the context of the study forms the basis of this paper. It is argued that the overall impact of maternal discourses on clinical teaching and learning is unclear but warrants more detailed investigation.